- The Plate
What Happens When Africa's Largest Lake Runs Out of Fish?
The fishermen who rely on Lake Victoria's once-abundant perch population for their livelihood know they are living on borrowed time.
As soon as a boat lands on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kasensero, Uganda, the town’s fishmongers are leaping over the gunwales with fists full of cash. They grab the meatiest catches first and slap the smaller ones on a 20-inch long wooden block, their tails carefully smoothed to stretch out their length. If the smaller fish make the cut, they are auctioned immediately. If not, the fishermen call Paluku Thophile and his wife, Katungu Mwasimuke.
The processing factories that send fillets and cans abroad won’t accept small fish—they’re illegally immature and have little meat between their bones anyways—but Paluku and Katungu have a connection to other buyers who are less particular.
Seven years ago, the family was forced to flee